Welcome back to another installment of Rumblings Draft Scouting, our weekly feature in which we discuss players, prospects and hot topics from the world of college football.
Our posts have been pretty popular over the past month; each week, we've talked about three players whose stock is rising, and three more whose stock is plummeting. Given the mood from the Buffalo Bills' fan base after their most recent embarrassment, however, we thought it'd be prudent to give y'all a little escape from the team while simultaneously venting on how best to plan for the future of the franchise (you know, if you were in charge and all).
No place better to start than quarterbacks, considering we can't talk about coaches and GMs when discussing college football. After the jump, you'll find our scouts' take (a consensus take, by the way) on how the top seven quarterbacks in the nation rank. Have fun.
1. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (JR)
Bradford is the closest thing to the "complete package" in the nation right now. He's technically sound and will get better; he's a leader; he's big, mobile, and deadly accurate. But when you're the clear-cut top QB in the nation, there will always be nit-picking; Bradford will be nit-picked to death if he decides to leave Oklahoma after this season. -Brian
Stay cautious: His shoulder injury is a (minor) concern. So is his ability, or lack thereof - we haven't seen enough of him yet to make an accurate assessment - in dealing with a strong pass rush (i.e. playing behind a not-so-great offensive line). Other than that, Bradford's skill set is ideal.
2. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame (JR)
Tough kid. Plays for a team with everyone out to get him, and he gets the job done. I like that in a quarterback. He has a good arm and is in a pro-style offense. -WABillsfan
Stay cautious: Clausen, in his third year playing under Charlie Weis, has been terrific this season in ND's 4-1 start, and has proven himself as more than capable in clutch situations in four straight close games for the Irish. In terms of being battle-tested, Clausen (and perhaps Tebow) is the clear leader. But if he leaves early, you'll hear questions about his arm angle while throwing (much like Philip Rivers did) and, to a lesser degree, his football smarts.
3. Jake Locker, Washington (JR)
Team leader with good football smarts and can pull the ball down and run it. Really developing into a top-flight passer accuracy-wise thanks to Steve Sarkisian - but he may not leave until after his senior season due to this. Could become a Drew Brees type of late-first, early second-round QB who just takes off after a couple of seasons. -WABillsfan
Stay cautious: WA mentioned that he might not (read: probably won't) come out. His stat line this season is pretty underwhelming, too, and he's definitely not lighting teams up. But he's playing good football despite lacking talent around him. He's a good player, but we're not sure he's anywhere near NFL-ready yet.
4. Tony Pike, Cincinnati (SR)
Pike has a good arm, but he typically doesn't use it. He'll throw the occasional fastball, but he typically uses touch throws and likes to drop balls into receivers. You'll see some scouting reports say he has good arm strength and others say it isn't good enough. The question for him is whether that ratio of fastball to floater improves against better competition. -kaisertown
Stay cautious: Pike is the prototype as far as NFL quarterback prospects goes, but he hasn't been playing football for very long, and he's lighting up poor teams this season. We love his consistency, accuracy and touch, but we'd like to see him play well in a big game and deal with some adversity before selling him as worthy of first-round consideration.
5. Tim Tebow, Florida (SR)
Good arm, smart, mobile, best leader in the nation. Will fix the correctable issues in his game (throwing motion, snaps under center, etc.) and become an excellent QB. -gatornation
Stay cautious: In general, we're of the belief that Tebow - easily the most highly-debated QB in the nation when it comes to NFL prospects - has the work ethic and abilities to iron out the kinks in his mechanics. Clearly, he is top-notch in that ever-important "intangibles" department. But he's not a Day 1 starter, which is the only reason he ranks this low on our list.
6. Jevan Snead, Mississippi (SR)
Easily the best arm in the nation, but he's been terrible this year. Things could turn around for him, and he's by far the most likely player to make a big climb up the board - but he looks like he needs another year in college. -kaisertown
Stay cautious: Snead has fallen woefully short of meeting pre-season hype, and so has his Ole Miss team. His physical tools are elite, but his decision-making and poise have been beyond questionable this season. As kaisertown suggests, Snead would do well to finish his collegiate career in early 2011.
7. Colt McCoy, Texas (SR)
Smart kid with good poise, excellent feet, and has put up huge numbers at Texas. But his arm strength is extremely questionable, and he has a bit of that product-of-the-system feel. Plus, it's Texas - the breeding grounds of disappointing football players. -Brian
Stay cautious: McCoy is a good football player, and certainly has the potential to become a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. But he's not elite in any one category, and that's concerning when talking about players you want to build your team around. He's got a place in the NFL waiting for him - we're just not completely sure if it's as a starter or as a backup.
We'll end with a rant from sireric:
I am not very excited about the immediate starting ability of any of the quarterbacks on this list. I really hope that the Bills don't hitch their wagon to any of these guys hoping for the future. I would MUCH rather go and get a veteran QB should the need arise next off-season to move in a different direction from Trent Edwards.